The college’s chapter of Mortar Board again received multiple honors for the previous school year during the national organization’s annual summer conference.  In the accompanying photo (from left to right), Section Coordinator Sarra Nazem of Denver, Colorado, presents the Gold Torch Award to current Hope chapter member Andrew Bennett, current chapter president Brenden Merriman and Dr. Dianne Portfleet, who concluded long-time service as the chapter’s co-adviser this past spring.

The Hope College chapter of Mortar Board again earned multiple honors during the national organization’s annual summer conference.

The awards program recognized activities during the 2015-16 school year.  Hope received a “Gold Torch Award” and 15 “Project Excellence” awards.  The conference was held on Friday-Sunday, July 22-24, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The college’s Dianne Portfleet Alcor chapter of the honorary society has received multiple awards during each of the past several years, including recognition as the nation’s top chapter with the “Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award” during the national conference in 2010.

The “Gold Torch Award” honors chapters that have excelled in the areas of scholarship, leadership and service. The Hope chapter was one of the top four “Gold Torch Award” recipients for the ninth year in a row.

The chapter’s 15 “Project Excellence Awards” followed a new process this year during which chapters were allowed to submit at most 15 projects for consideration.  In previous years, there was not a limit, and the Hope chapter received 28 awards last year, 25 in 2014, 19 in 2013, 17 in 2012, 12 in 2011 and eight in both 2009 and 2010.  A few of the projects honored this year—as in past years—included the chapter’s participation in the college’s Relay for Life held on behalf of the American Cancer Society and student-organized Dance Marathon held on behalf of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; the Friendship Prom; and the Thanksgiving dinner for international students. 

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 231 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Diane Portfleet Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  The Hope chapter had 35 members during the 2015-16 school year.

The chapter was renamed for former co-adviser Dr. Dianne Portfleet this past spring in recognition of her dedicated service to the chapter from 2002 through the end of the 2015-16 school year, when she stepped down from the role.  Portfleet is an associate professor of English at Hope, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1988 and is continuing to teach.  She attended the conference on behalf of the college, along with current student members Andrew Bennett, who is a senior from Holland; and Brenden Merriman, who is a senior from Grand Haven and is also the chapter’s president for 2016-17.

The co-advisers this year are Dr. Heidi Kraus, assistant professor of art, who co-advised the chapter with Portfleet last year; Dr. Marc Baer, interim dean for the arts and humanities and professor emeritus of history; and Eva Dean Folkert, lecturer in interdisciplinary studies.